Development of a $2 billion stadium in Tokyo, which is set to be the location of the 2020 Olympics, has been halted. Just five years from the big event, Japan is scrapping the stadium design that helped it win the Olympic bid as a result of a petition on Change.org that gained massive support over the last two years ago.
"I have been listening to the voices of the people and the athletes for about a month now, thinking about the possibility of a review," said Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on Friday. "We must go back to the drawing board. The cost has just ballooned too much."
Cost was at the center of the petition that was started by architects and residents of the Jungumae neighborhood in Tokyo, where the stadium will be located. Recent projected costs for the new stadium -- designed by Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid -- hit $2 billion, nearly twice the original estimate, according to Reuters. The group was also concerned that the proposed design might overwhelm the neighborhood known for its beautiful, tree-lined streets.
Over two years, the petition was at the center of a larger strategy --press conferences, demonstrations, and expert panels --to show popular support for rethinking the stadium plan.
Then, over the last few weeks, the petition started to catch fire. After national television coverage, the petition broke 50,000 signatures on Monday, July 13. A few days later it had reached 80,000 signatures. And on Friday, this dedicated group of citizens was able to declare victory when PM Abe announced that the plan had been scrapped.
But this week, Japanese citizens weren't the only victors over excessive government funding for recreation.
Animal Rights Organization Ends Subsidized Bullfights in Coruña, Spain
Asociacion Animalista Libera also started a petition two years ago. It was asking the city of Coruña to ban bullfighting from public arenas subsidized by government funding.
The petition cites the cruelty of bullfighting as well as the fact that most residents of Coruña object to it, evidenced by low attendance levels in recent years. But the organization's larger argument is that the money spent on bullfighting in Coruña -- half a million Euros over three years -- could have been spent on social services for families.
After more than 181,000 signatures, and two years of campaigning, bullfighting was suspended in Coruña last week. The town's mayor, Xulio Ferreiro, noted that the decision to suspend bullfighting was done in the "public interest" and that terminating contracts with bullfighting promoters "is going to be cheaper for the city." This decision marks the first time in 25 years that the city will be without bullfighting.
Do you see government spending that needs to be kept in check? Start a petition now.